How popular is the baby name Charlton in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Charlton.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Charlton


Posts that Mention the Name Charlton

How did “El Cid” influence baby names?

The characters Rodrigo and Chimène from the movie "El Cid" (1961).
Rodrigo and Chimène from “El Cid

The historical epic El Cid opened in movie theaters in December of 1961.

The movie was a romanticized version of the tale of 11th-century Spanish knight Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who came to be known as El Cid — from the Spanish-Arabic term al-sid, meaning “the lord” — during his lifetime.

El Cid starred Charlton Heston as Rodrigo, and Sophia Loren as Rodrigo’s wife Chimène (pronounced shee-mehn). El Cid’s wife was actually named Jimena (sometimes spelled Ximena); for some reason, the filmmakers decided to use the French form of the name for the character, though they didn’t similarly turn “Rodrigo” into “Rodrigue.”

The following year, three El Cid-inspired baby names popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

YearChimeneCidElcid
196413 baby girls5 baby boys.
196317 baby girls7 baby boys.
196220 baby girls [debut]6 baby boys [debut]5 baby boys [debut]
1961...
1960...

(Elcid never returned to the data, making it a one-hit wonder.)

What are your thoughts on these names?

P.S. Here’s a famous Chimene who was born in England in the early 1980s…

Sources: El Cid (1961) – TCM, El Cid – Britannica

What gave the baby name Nairobi a boost in the 1980s?

Screenshot from the CBS promo for the TV movie "Nairobi Affair" (1984).
CBS promo for “Nairobi Affair”

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, takes its name from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which means “cold water.” It refers to the river that flows through the city.

In the 1970s, the city name began popping up as a boy name in the U.S. baby name data. This isn’t surprising, given African-Americans’ growing interest in baby names associated with Africa during that decade (e.g., 1971, 1973, 1977).

In 1984, though, Nairobi saw a small spike in usage — as a girl name. The spelling variant Nairoby also emerged.

Nairobi usageNairoby usage
19865 baby girls5 baby girls
19857 baby girls6 baby girls
198413 baby girls11 baby girls [debut]
19835 baby girlsunlisted
1982unlistedunlisted

Why?

Because of a television movie called Nairobi Affair. It was filmed in Kenya and aired on CBS in October 1984. (Coincidentally, another African place name, Etosha, was also given a boost by a show that aired on CBS in 1984.)

Advertisement for the TV movie "Nairobi Affair" (1984).
1984 “Nairobi Affair” ad

The film starred Charlton Heston, who played “the owner of a Kenyan safari camp who [was] having an affair with his estranged son’s former wife.” The former wife was played by former Bond girl Maud Adams.

What are your thoughts on Nairobi as a baby name?

Sources:

Fastest-rising baby names (relative increase), 1881 to today

arrow, increase

Many years ago, I published a list of the top debut baby names. A few years after that, I posted a list of the top one-hit wonder baby names.

So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.

Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)

  • 1881: Isa, 240%; Noble, 333%
  • 1882: Clementine, 300%; Clarance, 300%
  • 1883: Malissa, 243%; Alf, 150%
  • 1884: Belva, 1,220%; Grover, 532%
  • 1885: Phebe, 220%; Bryant, 200%
  • 1886: Felicia, 180%; Thornton, 240%
  • 1887: Ossie, 240%; Aubrey, 240%
  • 1888: Bennie, 250%; Thurman, 414%
  • 1889: Diana, 233%; Grady, 267%
  • 1890: Easter, 238%; Isaiah, 215%
  • 1891: Lutie, 200%; Colonel, 217%
  • 1892: Lollie, 271%; Pierce, 340%
  • 1893: Annabell, 240%; Lindsay, 320%
  • 1894: Versie, 320%; Alvie, 233%
  • 1895: Glenn, 283%; Alma, 220%
  • 1896: Vernice, 217%; Hobart, 744%
  • 1897: Sigrid, 200%; Roswell, 183%
  • 1898: Manila, 1,386%; Dewey, 606%
  • 1899: Tula, 280%; Rogers, 220%
  • 1900: Rosia, 480%; Wilber, 417%
  • 1901: Dellie, 180%; Kermit, 183%
  • 1902: Lolita, 420%; Judge, 260%
  • 1903: Rafaela, 280%; Jordan, 250%
  • 1904: Amber, 314%; Adelbert, 260%
  • 1905: Orma, 300%; Armand, 222%
  • 1906: Ena, 456%; Sheldon, 240%
  • 1907: Lota & Tula, 240%; Quincy, 183%
  • 1908: Bernetta & Nila, 260%; Taft, 288%
  • 1909: Laverna & Nevada, 267%; Toney, 300%
  • 1910: Cleopatra, 240%; Arturo & Sammy, 283%
  • 1911: Maryellen, 280%; Vincenzo & Wyman, 320%
  • 1912: Marina, 420%; Woodrow, 1,423%
  • 1913: Carroll, 263%; Rosendo, 320%
  • 1914: Lucyle, 280%; Irvine, 333%
  • 1915: Zudora, 460%; Charlton, 320%
  • 1916: Aldena, 291%; Tatsuo, 850%
  • 1917: Liberty, 617%; Masami, 338%
  • 1918: Kazuko, 320%; Quentin, 567%
  • 1919: Verbie, 300%; Belvin, 360%
  • 1920: Marcene, 386%; Harding, 718%
  • 1921: Elwanda, 1,860%; Gareth, 560%
  • 1922: Carley, 320%; Colie, 340%
  • 1923: Eris, 1,313%; Coolidge, 820%
  • 1924: Janeth, 517%; Phyllis, 260%
  • 1925: Murlene & Normalee, 260%; Estell & Unknown, 214%
  • 1926: Ileana, 633%; Jarrell & Lenoard, 240%
  • 1927: Charmaine, 825%; Lindbergh, 867%
  • 1928: Jeannine, 1,147%; Hoover, 522%
  • 1929: Dorla, 800%; Davey, 889%
  • 1930: Arlayne, 317%; Derl, 1,060%
  • 1931: Marlene, 745%; Colbert, 280%
  • 1932: Harlene, 270%; Delano, 1,057%
  • 1933: Sharleen, 425%; Delano, 289%
  • 1934: Adriana, 283%; Kelvin, 360%
  • 1935: Norita, 1,171%; Darwyn, 458%
  • 1936: Shelba, 2,667%; Lonzie, 320%
  • 1937: Deanna, 2,009%; Tyrone, 788%

The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot more accurate starting in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…

  • 1938: Danielle, 878%; Dion, 355%
  • 1939: Brenda, 308%; Hall, 280%
  • 1940: Scarlett, 743%; Clemmie, 257%
  • 1941: Jerilyn, 1,250%; Rulon, 250%
  • 1942: Michal, 1,520%; Macarthur, 2,740%
  • 1943: Shaaron, 456%; Suzanne, 240%
  • 1944: Dorinda, 568%; Kennedy, 280%
  • 1945: Lauren, 709%; Dorian, 220%
  • 1946: Jacalyn, 740%; Cornel, 533%
  • 1947: Jolinda, 388%; Brock, 364%
  • 1948: Sharman, 275%; Kevan, 260%
  • 1949: Lorry, 360%; Hanson, 240%
  • 1950: Vallorie, 717%; Brion, 400%
  • 1951: Krystal, 588%; Denise, 350%
  • 1952: Pandora, 1,100%; Corby & Wilhelm, 240%
  • 1953: Angelique, 1,157%; Shane, 392%
  • 1954: Sheree, 756%; Dain, 360%
  • 1955: Sabrina, 711%; Davy, 509%
  • 1956: Venetia, 543%; Cheyenne, 680%
  • 1957: Tammy, 1,591%; Tammy, 467%
  • 1958: Keely, 1,100%; Bret, 680%
  • 1959: Torri, 411%; Efrem, 963%
  • 1960: Lisha, 1,096%; Stephon, 1,200%
  • 1961: Marisol, 481%; Parrish, 1,460%
  • 1962: Penne, 447%; Chance, 350%
  • 1963: Tamiko, 1,440%; Tal, 617%
  • 1964: Deneen, 7,191%; Temple, 420%
  • 1965: Fontella, 880%; Branden, 340%
  • 1966: Tabatha, 9,900%; Heath, 1,070%
  • 1967: Anisa, 1,600%; Garrison, 320%
  • 1968: Coretta, 2,485%; Dustin, 778%
  • 1969: Lalena, 640%; Jeromy, 514%
  • 1970: Shiloh, 540%; Jermaine, 3,320%
  • 1971: Ashli, 1,900%; Jermaine, 494%
  • 1972: Catina, 9,033%; Demond, 3,920%
  • 1973: Cicely, 1,827%; Caine, 780%
  • 1974: Nakia, 16,100%; Rashad, 1,100%
  • 1975: Rasheda, 988%; Jamaal, 688%
  • 1976: Rhiannon, 1,713%; Seneca, 1,429%
  • 1977: Shawntae, 686%; Lavar, 5,480%
  • 1978: Aja, 3,407%; Dequan, 988%
  • 1979: Renada, 780%; Yoel, 525%
  • 1980: Genese, 1,920%; Rayshaun, 440%
  • 1981: Krystle, 1,623%; Cavin, 833%
  • 1982: Jere, 1,000%; Colt, 1,620%
  • 1983: Ciji, 2,950%; Remington, 657%
  • 1984: Santana, 3,467%; Ryne, 424%
  • 1985: Kayleigh, 2,914%; Jaymes, 769%
  • 1986: Kyrie, 3,180%; Orry, 789%
  • 1987: Janay, 1,168%; Jareth, 400%
  • 1988: Whitley, 916%; Nico, 860%
  • 1989: Audriana, 3,467%; Alexande, 4,917%
  • 1990: Alannah, 1,583%; Tevin, 4,569%
  • 1991: Tanairi, 820%; Devante, 1,356%
  • 1992: Darian, 703%; Jalen, 3,980%
  • 1993: Coraima, 4,320%; Savon, 2,457%
  • 1994: Aaliyah, 6,495%; Romario, 1,940%
  • 1995: Iridian, 1,845%; Tristin, 747%
  • 1996: Alanis, 1,047%; Json, 880%
  • 1997: Yulisa, 2,729%, Ennis, 620%
  • 1998: Jazsmin, 960%; Denilson, 900%
  • 1999: Tionne, 1,100%; Sincere, 647%
  • 2000: Litzy, 1,189%; Elian, 2,413%
  • 2001: Nevaeh, 1,111%; Jaheim, 5,440%
  • 2002: Lashanti, 2,060%; Omarion, 8,260%
  • 2003: Azeneth, 1,913%; Andon, 2,200%
  • 2004: Betzaida, 1,233%; Jakwon, 1,260%
  • 2005: Mikalah, 1,906%; Talan, 2,130%
  • 2006: Bethzy; 2,636%; Dereon, 1,217%
  • 2007: Jaslene, 9,920%; Leonidas & Renner, 700%
  • 2008: Dayami, 3,464%; Barack, 940%
  • 2009: Baya, 1,020%; Dhani, 520%
  • 2010: Collins, 1,557%; Bentlee, 733%
  • 2011: Thaily, 1,400%; Neymar, 900%
  • 2012: Cataleya, 2,182%; Long, 740%
  • 2013: Daleyza, 1,055%; Jaiceon, 1,057%
  • 2014: Aranza, 1,297%; Jameis, 720%
  • 2015: Vail, 700%; Rhydian, 667%
  • 2016: Kehlani, 571%; Kylo, 580%
  • 2017: Westlynn, 600%; Oseias, 1,080%
  • 2018: Maleni, 950%; Atreus, 1,888%
  • 2019: Yalitza, 1,490%; Ermias, 3,360%
  • 2020: Ehlani, 2,100%; Omere, 460%
  • 2021: Thyri, 1,033%; Calian, 914%

(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…

Where did the baby name Haya come from in 1960?

Actress Haya Harareet as Esther in the movie "Ben-Hur" (1959).
Haya Harareet in “Ben-Hur

The novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) by Lewis “Lew” Wallace told the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a young Jewish prince who sought revenge upon the Romans after a period of enslavement. The book was extremely successful, remaining on the best-seller list for decades.

The best-known film adaptation of the book was Ben Hur (1959), which starred Charlton Heston as Judah and Israeli actress Haya Harareet as his love interest, Esther. The movie cost more money and featured more crew and extras than any other movie that had been made up to that point. In April of 1960, it won a record 11 Oscars.

Also in 1960, the baby name Haya appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the very first time:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby girls named Haya [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

The name Haya is a form of Chaya, which is a feminine form of Chayyim, which means “life.”

A much more recent adaptation of the story was the 2-episode miniseries Ben Hur, which aired on American TV during the 2010 Easter season. It didn’t have the cultural impact of the 1959 film, but it did nudge the usage of baby name Ben Hur upward — just enough for the name to appear for the first and (so far) only time in the data:

  • 2012: unlisted
  • 2011: unlisted
  • 2010: 8 baby boys named Benhur [debut]
  • 2009: unlisted
  • 2008: unlisted

The surname Ben-Hur means “son of white linen.” Lew Wallace said that it was chosen for the lead character “because it [was] Biblical, and easily spelled, printed, and pronounced.”

Sources: